In today’s business climate attorneys’ have to deal with client expectations, competitors, rigorous court schedules, and the pressure of running a law firm. In fact, in 2016 Thomson Reuters released a report that stated 40% of an attorney’s time is spent on activities other than the practice of law( Thomson Reuters, 2016). This can lead to attorneys’ to succumb to emotional pressure and become disengaged with staff. Sometimes it may cause an attorney to become an ineffective leader. Effective leadership can only happen when people believe in and desire to follow. Effective leaders communicate a shared vision, which is integral to engaging personnel in the company they lead. This comes from utilizing emotional intelligence.
Emotional intelligence (EI) is the capability to manage and control one’s emotions and possess the ability to influence the emotions of others as well. How can emotional intelligence help create a healthy law firm? Emotional intelligence consists of emotional, social, and cognitive competencies such as threshold competency. These competencies help us be aware of our own emotions and manage them. Threshold competency will be the focus of this article.
Part of threshold competency is to differentiate average and above average performance. When the legal staff knows you are motivated to do simple and complex tasks they will respect you and you may influence them to achieve similar goals. Also, you will be able to show staff how certain tasks are done. In turn, the staff will exercise this competency and help each other when the need arises. This is especially important when dealing with a complex legal issue or case. Find something good about the challenges of the case or legal issue and work through it.
Within that competency is the social skill of communication. Communication within a law firm is a very important aspect. If you are not able to communicate your point of view it can create confusion and create a negative working environment. Having the social skill to communicate and build a good bond with the staff will create a healthy environment. When practicing this competency it will help you become aware of what other members of the firm are going through. For example, when working on a complex legal case an attorney may need to communicate the strategic plan to the entire legal team. When certain aspects of the proposed strategy breakdown this is where your adeptness in relationship management will shine.
In times like this you need to be a coach and mentor by helping bolster the teams abilities to help develop a new strategy. In addition, you need to be inspiring and influential to your legal team in order to guide them on how to wield effective tactics. Finally, your conflict management skills in resolving problems will be effective by creating a group synergy in pursuing the new strategic goal. When others are able to perceive how emotionally intelligent you are it will have a positive affect on those around you. In closing, by practising emotional intelligence you may begin to realize your own strengths and weaknesses. Know your strengths, but understand your weaknesses. This will help you regulate yourself. If you begin to hold yourself accountable and not blame others for your mistakes, others will appreciate that and that will have a positive impact on the firm.
Thomson Reuters (2016) retrieved June 1, 2018 from,